How to Find Out If Federal Tax Return Has Been Processed

Checking your status isn't as much of a headache as filing your return.

Checking your status isn't as much of a headache as filing your return.

You’ve checked and double-checked the math, affixed your signature to the forms and finished your tax return. You hit send and then wait. With your refund in cyberspace, or on a mail truck somewhere if you snail-mailed it, you trust that your return will get where it’s supposed to go.

What Is My IRS Refund Status?

You are anxiously awaiting confirmation from the Internal Revenue Service. You are thinking, “I need to check to see if the IRS received my tax return.” You are wondering if they have begun to process it. What do you do next? The IRS has made it convenient for most people to check their tax return status and see if a refund is in process or has been issued. It’s easiest to find out if your return is being processed if you are expecting a refund.

The quickest way to check is through a free mobile app, IRS2Go, available through Google Play, Apple and Amazon. Another quick way to check is online using the IRS's Where's My Refund.com. Through the IRS2Go app, you can check the status of your IRS tax refund, make a payment and even get tax questions answered. You can check your refund status using either IRS refund tracker 24 hours after you’ve e-filed, or four weeks after you’ve mailed a paper copy. The IRS2Go app, as well as the online Where’s My Refund, update every 24 hours, usually overnight.

When checking the status of your refund on IRS2Go or Where’s My Refund, you’ll need your Social Security number, filing status (single, married, head of household) and the exact amount of refund you’re due. Answers will either be Return Received, meaning the IRS has received your return and it is being processed; Refund Approved, meaning the IRS has finished processing your refund and has scheduled your tax refund; or Refund Sent, meaning your refund will either be mailed to you by check or direct deposited into the account you provided on your tax return. Direct deposit is the quickest way to receive your refund, usually within a couple of days. It takes a couple of weeks to get a check by mail or debit card.

If you don’t want to use IRS2Go or Where’s My Refund, you can call the IRS tax refund hotline phone number. For this, you’ll need your Social Security number, your filing status and the exact amount of refund you’re expecting. The 24-hour, seven-day-a-week toll-free number to call is 800-829-4477. You can check your refund in English or Spanish. Before calling, wait three weeks if you’ve e-filed, or wait at least six weeks after you’ve mailed a paper copy.

If you have e-filed using commercial tax software, the company typically sends you an email letting you know if the IRS has accepted your tax return for processing.

If you owe money and you want to make sure the IRS has received your payment, check the IRS View Your Tax Account page online. You can also call the IRS number 800-829-1040. Make sure you have your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number and birth dates of those on the return, filing status, the prior year’s tax return, a copy of the tax return you’re calling about and any IRS correspondence. Call center professionals will only speak with taxpayers or their legally designated representatives.

Exceptions You May Encounter

Only check the Where’s My Refund or IRS2Go for the current tax year’s return.

If you need to make a correction to the return you just filed, you can file Form 1040-X, an amended tax return. return. Your amended tax return will take up to three weeks after being mailed to show up in the IRS System. Processing it can take up to 16 weeks. You can then check the status of your amended return online at the IRS Where’s My Amended Return webpage, or by calling the IRS call center.

Most state tax offices have online systems to check if a state return is being processed, similar to the IRS. Check with your state tax office for the latest web pages and apps. Also, if you've filed your state return using commercial tax software, that firm should keep you in the loop about when your return is accepted for processing.

Filing for 2018

Expect IRS2Go and Where’s My Return to be updated in early to mid-February 2019 to start serving 2018 tax returns.

Filing for 2017

You should be able to access IRS2Go and Where’s My Return for your 2017 returns if you expect a refund, as long as you’ve waited 24 hours after e-filing or four weeks after mailing a paper return. You can also call the call center at 800-829-4477 three weeks after you’ve e-filed or six weeks after mailing your return. If you owe the IRS, expect to wait up to 16 weeks. Again, if you e-file using commercial tax software, you should get an email from the software company when the IRS accepts your tax return.

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About the Author

Karen Gardner is a former feature editor and writer and is now a freelance writer. She looks forward to doing her family's taxes each year, and likes to write about business for the rest of us.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images